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Fresh technologies should improve effectiveness of mobile phone recycling

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 09:21:52

Recycling an old mobile phone is the only sensible way to dispose of a gadget that still retains many valuable components and materials. Despite this, the Guardian reports that just 3 per cent of the handsets purchased last year will actually benefit from this responsible approach at the end of ownership.

With billions of mobiles bought each year, this really is a global problem, not only because of low recycling rates but also as a result of the inefficiencies involved in current recycling techniques.

When a mobile cannot be refurbished and resold, it is broken down and has valuable minerals harvested from its circuit boards and components. And for the time being, only a small proportion of this is actually reusable, which is something that researchers are looking to change.

Some experts argue that taking the modular approach to smartphones, which allows for things like the screen, processor, camera and other features to be swapped out individually by the user, will help to cut down on waste. Indeed, Google is just one of the companies looking into the launch of a modular mobile, with the first device expected to land in 2015.

When it comes to the components used to make handsets, plastic is still hugely common. For this reason, companies are looking to develop new types of this material, which are easier to recycle and turn back into new mobile phones.

Consumers may not be able to get involved directly with the development of new recycling technologies. But to make sure that companies are willing to invest in them, it is important to sell your old phone online, so that recycling rates rise and it is much easier to justify the amount of spending that is required to improve levels of efficiency.




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